Dan’s Pikks III
Cucalorus gets a running start this year with screenings all day on Wednesday. The first screening of Cuc 13 will be our annual showcase of fest shorts held for area high school students. This free screening includes the best of the festival in terms of short films with filmmakers in attendance. Big thanks to the Landfall Foundation for sponsoring this year’s edition of the student screenings.

Fittingly, the first public screening takes place at our quirky homebase, Jengo’s Playhouse. With a new screen, a newly installed (digizoom!!) 6000 lumens DLP projector and a few secrets up its sleeve, Wilmington’s only micro-cinema must be on everyone’s list of Cucalorus activities. Tenderloin Shorts hits the screen at 11AM on Wednesday and includes the Golden Palm (Cannes) winner THE OATES VALOR. Another impressive short in this batch is Mark Craig’s TALK TO ME which consists of a collection of old phone machine messages. When this one started, I didn’t think it would draw me in. I kept thinking, I don’t even like listening to my own phone messages. But Mark’s friends, their messages and the way he cuts them together, makes for an amazing little narrative.

If you time it right, you can catch the Cucalorus shuttle down to Thalian in time to sneak in for THE LITTLE BOOK OF REVENGE – a smart, dark comedy that has all the appeal of a blockbuster without the cardboard characters and cliches. If you want to get your eyes on the opener for our highly anticipated Racial Rewind series, drop into Thalian Black for Jeremy Dean’s DARE NOT WALK ALONE. I’ll probably pick up a bite to eat on the mezzanine lobby – testing the festival cafe’s savory offerings.

One of my favorite films in the festival is Alex Gibney’s TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE. It’ll make you so mad that you’ll need a couple of shots of Tuaca to calm you down. Gibney disects the White House’s torture campaign, looking at Afghanistan and Iraq as examples of the warmongers handiwork. A brief trip to Guantanamo Bay includes a visit to the gift shop, where you can buy Gitmo hats, T-shirts and sweats. WOW!

At 7:30pm on the main stage, Dance-A-Lorus reigns supreme. The third edition of this premier collaboration between choreographers and filmmakers promises to be more polished and precise than ever before. But if you’d rather stick to film, don’t miss HOCHHAUS, a mini-feature from a German film student with high production values and great performances.

At 9pm, our Kickoff Carnival begins at Riverfront Park. Nate Lee’s surf flick BAGGAGE will get things started, followed by eclectic muscial samplings from Matt Malloy, Stefano Giannotti and Ron Franklin. You’ll have to come down to the river to find out if we’ve really gotten a ferris wheel. If we do, I’ll be on it all night long!

At Midnight, Jengo’s Playhouse will present Anders Morgenthaler’s PRINCESS. This film hasn’t played much outside of Europe, but it’s full of eye-popping animation that you’ll have to see to believe. Get a ticket to this screening while you can – with only 70 seats I’m sure this one will fill up fast. A little secret for all you blog readers – you can buy tickets online for Jengo’s screenings – even though it says you can’t in the magazine. Just go to a film’s description and clikk on the buy tickets button. There are only 25 advance tickets for Jengo’s screenings.

I’ll try to pitch in again tomorrow with my picks for Saturday.
Until then, here are 4 filmmakers who rokk on Wednesday:
Amy Belling – THE SADDEST BOY IN THE WORLD (screens with HOCHHAUS)
Nikias Chryssos – HOCHHAUS (Nikias couldn’t make it to the fest, but he still rokks)
Nathan Daniel – THE MANTIS (Tenderloin Shorts)